Aller au sommaire de ce numéro de Tanbou/Tambour, Été 2005

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Reflections on Haiti’s Development: Are Haitians unable to control themselves or has history taken its course?

—by Razulu

I

n the 17th century, England found itself in the worst possible conditions. It was plagued by theft, corruption, misery, and hunger. During that period countries weren’t analyzed based on how technologically advanced they were; it was the amount of accumulated gold and military prowess rather than the level of scientific research that determined the wealth of a nation. The English dealt with this problem by seeking and creating new colonies which became slave colonies that created an economic outlet for both industrial expansion and political expansion around the world. Slavery served as an economic structure for England, America and other European countries like France. On the other hand a developing country today is subject to a higher level of competition; for example, technologically, the world has changed tremendously, the research level is highly sophisticated. It allows more productivity in the industries as well as the sciences which have increased modern abilities of fighting diseases and hunger.

Haiti is in a position where it needs to conduct massive national reforms on all levels; something which has never been done since its independence because of instability, lack of national cohesion and corruption. We can’t look at Haiti today and decide that it should have been better, what kind of structure was there for it to follow? Haiti is not an isolated case, it should be noted that many of the countries that are considered powerful today endured a similar lack of infrastructure in the beginning; most countries, even today, are continuously fighting corruption at the governmental as well as the public level. It is rather obvious that corruption is something that is ubiquitous; if it is present in developed countries with the means to combat impunity, imagine the role that it would play in a country like Haiti dominated by chaos and insecurity.

Haiti is dealing with problems that Japan, England, France dealt with many centuries ago before modern America was even conceived let along become a powerful nation. To understand Haiti, we need to understand and scrutinize how countries develop; rather than emphasizing on the ex-colonies in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean etc. We should study how the big powers progressed from the very stage of chaos to being developed. In other words, we should study development from an economic, social as well as historical perspective. That will help us realize that Haiti is not an isolated case; it will also show that Haiti has the same potential as other countries to develop into a strong nation.

When Haitians say that Haiti will change, they utter those words the same way that people who lived in a once desolated England, France, Japan, China and some parts of the United States had once declared. This is symptomatic; it is definitely not typically Haitian. Haiti is suffering from the malady of a country dying to rise. Now is that possible? Yes it is! Was it possible many years ago? Not necessarily because the same countries that are leading the world today were benefiting from slavery, post slavery or colonization which permitted a unilateral system where ex-colonizers benefited from their ex-colonies and colonies by controlling those countries’ business sectors and trades. As a result, the French continued to benefit from Haiti even after the Haitian revolution. They—along with the United States—own most of the major companies and factories including Hasco, the biggest sugar company in Haiti. Furthermore, the education system (without any reforms) continues to be the same as in France; as a result, Haitian children were and continue to be integrated into the French culture via the language and literature; thus, blocking one of the fundamental aspects of national development which is integration of Haiti into itself, so to speak. This means that people are schooled in the culture of a country in order to create national citizens. The French law system was never changed to reflect the whole Haitian society; this in turn created a division between the state or the government and the people. Socially, there weren’t major reforms to address the social issues such as making education available to the whole country; it is a continued struggle, but until recently the rich went to school while the poor stayed at home.

These same situations culminating with the way schools are conducted by an omnipresent person (very much like the French system) leading the classrooms with an iron fist, dominating thoughts, overpowering and not allowing creative thinking, leads to the propagation of dictator characteristics. Like dysfunctional machineries, these problems have created a vacuum for figures like Duvalier who was elected in part because of his noirism ideals which gave rise to a dark skin educated elite and intellectuals as opposed to the people of fair skin that dominated for decades. This same loophole allowed Aristide to follow along the line of Duvalier to fill a void in the political and social system of the country which excluded and isolated the poor, who constitute a majority, from the rest. Irrespective of how their leaderships ended these were people who were trying to correct problems that should have been corrected since the beginning of the country’s history. In addition, Haiti suffers from its effort in trying to compete on an international level while failing to deal correctly with internal conflicts and abuses that have existed and have worsen over the centuries. Should we want to move forward, the leaders and all persons involved in the restructuring of the country should be adept in national and international affairs; they should be versed in economics and business as well as social studies. If Haiti continues to compete on an international level it will continue to suffer from the disparity of resources between a minority (within the country) able to respond financially, intellectually, and a majority that continues to fall in the abyss.

—Razulu

Aller au sommaire de ce numéro de Tanbou/Tambour, Été 2005

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